MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES — AARP’s popular Tax-Aide service was shuttered in March due to the coronovirus, leaving many taxpayers at a loss for help this tax season.
“Unfortunately, we will not be reopening this year,” AARP’s Darlene Kelly confirmed this week, adding the service may not reopen in 2021.
Because of COVID-19, there are currently no AARP Tax-Aide sites open in Madera or Fresno counties — or any neighboring county, Kelly said.
But there is good news: if taxpayers do not expect to owe money, there is no penalty if they don’t file by the July 15 deadline, Kelly said. “They could file their 2019 return at the same time they file the 2020 — although of course they won’t get any refunds due until they file.
Kelly also explained why Madera County’s Tax-Aide program is threatened. “We have had a number of volunteers retire, move away or face challenging health problems. In order to continue, we need new volunteers to step up and take charge of the program.”
Anyone interested can email Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (559) 760-0404.
“We are sorry to end the program after 30-plus years, and are glad that we have provided tax assistance for so many during that time,” Kelly said.
AARP still has online information about free tax prep services, and there is also a way that a taxpayer can ask a tax-aide volunteer to call them to answer questions and provide help, Kelly said.
For in-person help, there may be a VITA site available. VITA — Volunteers in Tax Assistance — is sponsored by the IRS, Kelly said. “I am not sure if there are any open sites in Fresno, but there may be in neighboring counties.”
Here is a link to the IRS website which includes the VITA site locator.
The VITA site sponsored by the Community Action Partnership of Madera County has some limited availability, although it does not show up on the IRS website.